Newborns are at low risk from Covid-19

Babies born at Blackpool Victoria Hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic played a key role in major new global discovery.

Thursday, 28th May 2020, 7:01 pm
New study show newborns are at low risk of catching Covid-19 the first month of life

The newborns, including one delviered eight weeks early, feature in a just-released study by academics and health experts into the likelihood of infants catching the disease.

The first global analysis of existing scientific studies related to COVID-19 and newborn babies show it is uncommon for infants aged up to four weeks old to become infected with the virus, with the few recorded cases experiencing only mild symptoms and making a full recovery.

The research was done by academics from Preston's University of Central Lancashire working with staff at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and included a review of scientific papers published between December 1 last year and May 12 2020.

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Dr Morris Gordon, Professor of Evidence Synthesis and Systematic Review at UCLan

The findings have now been published in the journal BMJ Paediatrics Open and reveal that from studying more than 200 papers, including the records of 75 newborns, researchers identified only 10 cases of babies reportedly testing positive for COVID-19 in the first four weeks of life.

None of the babies needed any additional treatment and no significant effects on the health of the newborns from the virus were found.

Of the 10 babies reported to have contracted COVID-19, only two caught the virus from the mother while in the womb, suggesting that transmission from a mother to child prior to birth is rare.

One case involved in the research was a baby delivered eight weeks early by emergency Cesarean at Blackpool Vic and cared for by the research team, with the mother wearing a mask and no family contact during the birth, implying that this case was most likely transmitted directly from the mother to the child within the womb .

The lead author is Professor Morris Gordon Professor of Evidence Synthesis and Systematic Review at UCLan.

He said: "This analysis of existing research points us toward a trend of COVID-19 being very rare within newborn babies, and having a mild impact if the newborn is infected.

"However, it is important to highlight that this is solely based on analysis of previously published scientific studies, and new parents and healthcare workers should continue to take all necessary precautions advised by their respective health authorities."

Prof Gordon added: "There is still much more to be understood about this new virus, and additional research must to be carried out in the coming weeks and months to fully understand the risk posed by COVID-19 to babies and young children."

Dr Taher Kagalwala, co-author and middle-grade paediatrician at the Trust, said: “This research reinforces that this virus seems to affect different groups of people in very different ways, and that there is still much to understand about its impact.

“We hope that these conclusions, combined with continuing research, will offer valuable insights into how the global medical community can best keep children and families safe and well.”

The full paper can be accessed on the BMJ Paediatrics Open website : http://bmjpaedsopen.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/10.1136/bmjpo-2020-000718